If you Google “Questions to ask a wedding photographer” then you’ll get a lot of results very quickly, and most of them will say the same things. I know this for a fact, because I’ve been asked the same things again and again when meeting clients. You can always tell when they’ve done this search, because they have a notepad with the questions scrawled on, but they read them as if they’re unfamiliar – and in some cases as if they don’t really know what answer they’re looking for.
“So, how would you describe your wedding photography style?” or “What type of equipment do you use?”, and even “Do you shoot in colour or black and white? How about infrared?”
Let’s face it – if you’re looking for a wedding photographer then you’ll have visited their site and you’ll have seen a sample of their work. You’ll probably have looked at lots of photographers’ websites, and picked a handful to meet with, based on a number of factors including the style of their work. Yes, you may want to see a whole wedding rather than just the handpicked shots that feature on their website, but what are you going to learn by asking them whether they shoot in infrared? (They won’t, by the way. Not these days!)
I’m always pleased, I should mention, when I meet with a couple who have gone to the trouble to research these questions. It means that they’re intelligent people who are really putting some thought into finding the right photographer. It’s just that often the questions are misguided. I’m always left thinking something along the lines of: “Why did they ask me which camera I use? They should have asked me how I’m going to keep their images safe!”
So, what should you ask? Here are my top five essential questions to ask a wedding photographer – and some of the answers you might want to hear!
1. How Will You Keep My Photos Safe?
Surely this must be one of the most important questions that you can ask? After all, if the digital files disappear, what do you have left?
Most professional wedding photographers will have certain systems in place to ensure that your photos are as safe and secure as they can be – during the wedding, after the wedding and for years to come. Find out what their system is, and give yourself some peace of mind.
Personally, I shoot on a camera which has two memory card slots. The two cards record the same images, meaning that I already have a backup should there be a problem with one of the cards. Once I get home from a wedding, I immediately back up the photos onto my computer and onto Google Drive. I never clear off the cards until I’ve checked that the images are backed up safely. I also back up the computer onto a separate cloud storage system (BackBlaze) and have a fourth copy on my portable hard drive that I use for editing. It sounds over the top, but I want to be sure that even if my house burns down, your photos are safe!
After the wedding the digital negative files are stored on one of Amazon’s servers, and your JPEGs are stored in two places – my online gallery system and a cloud storage solution that you as the client have access to for ten years.
I’m not suggesting that this is the only method to ensure that your precious wedding photos are kept safe, but it’s the one I use. Make sure your photographer has a similar ‘belt and braces’ system!
2. Do I Get The Digital Files?
Most wedding photographers do give you a copy of the digital files that they have edited, along with a print reproduction copyright allowance. But not everyone does. If this is something that is important to you – check beforehand!
3. What Will You Do If Your Camera Breaks?
Again, most professional wedding photographers will have this covered, but it’s worth checking. Do they carry spare camera bodies? Do they have a second photographer working alongside them? Do they have spare lenses if they drop one? Make sure that they will have at least two cameras at your wedding.
4. What Happens If You Can’t Make It?
Things happen. Life throws some curve balls at everyone. It hasn’t happened to me yet, but there’s every chance that one day I might not be able to make it to a wedding that I have booked. I could be in an accident, or someone close to me might be rushed to hospital. No-one can ever say to you that they will 100% be there – unless that person is Mystic Meg, but I’ve heard she’s rubbish at photography anyway.
Ask your photographer what his or her contingency plan is. I often use a second shooter who can take over should catastrophe strike. Or I have a number of close wedding photographer friends who I could call on at a moment’s notice. It’s not something I want to have to contemplate – but as a professional I have to have a plan in place. Make sure your photographer does too.
5. What If It Rains?
I know, I know! You’ve planned a gorgeous July wedding in a tipi in a field at the top of a hill. And IT WILL NOT RAIN. But what if it does?
It sounds like another simple question, but it’s worth checking how versatile your photographer is. Are they able to adapt and make the most of any inside locations? Ask to see some examples of weddings where it has rained – do you still love the photos?
There are other questions to ask a wedding photographer too, but I think that these are a good top five. Provided that you are comfortable with your photographer – you get on well with them – you love their photos, and they have solid answers to these questions, I think you’ve probably found your ideal wedding photographer!